I previously used disinfecting wipes to clean everything in the house, but after a while I noticed something: For certain materials like wood and glass, the wipes left streak marks on them. It turns out that just like handiwork, where you need the right tool for the right job, cleaning also requires using the right products for the right materials. So one day, about halfway through a cleanup, I realized two things: one, I needed wood polish; and two, I didn’t want to run to the store to get it. Instead, I looked up a recipe online, and I’ve been using it ever since.

Now, I make most of my cleaning products — for several reasons. I already have most of the ingredients on hand, so they eliminate the need to run out to the store when I’m elbow-deep into a cleaning session, and they save money. Plus, they are non-toxic, so I feel a little better eating off the counter when a crumb or two falls on it. You can do it, too.

Here are some of my favorite “recipes” I’ll be using this week:

Wood Polish


3 parts lemon juice
1 part olive oil

All-Purpose Cleaner

2 parts white vinegar
1 part baking soda

Carpet Stain Remover

1 part white vinegar
1 part water

Shake up the ingredients in a spray bottle. Spray directly on the stain and let it sit for several minutes before scrubbing with a stiff brush.

Toilet Bowl Cleaner


1 cup vinegar
1/4 cup baking soda

Dump the mixture into the basin and let it sit for several minutes before scrubbing. Flush after scrubbing to rinse.

Window Cleaner

1 quart warm water
2 teaspoons white vinegar

Apply with a lint-free cloth, such as an old T-shirt or crumpled black-and-white sections of the newspaper.


Using this list to save a trip to the store will help me big time this year. Thanksgiving is just days away, and I couldn’t be more unprepared. At this time last year, I had recipes ready, food bought, party games planned (Minute to Win It games are a big hit) and the house spick and span. While I still need to run to the market and plan some games, at least I know I have all the cleaning supplies I need. Best of all, I know that this time they won’t leave streaks on my coffee table.